God’s Lying Spirit

Then Micaiah told him, “In a vision I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, like sheep without a shepherd. And the LORD said, ‘Their master has been killed. Send them home in peace.’ ”

“Didn’t I tell you?” the king of Israel exclaimed to Jehoshaphat. “He never prophesies anything but trouble for me.”

Then Micaiah continued, “Listen to what the LORD says! I saw the LORD sitting on his throne with all the armies of heaven around him, on his right and on his left. And the LORD said, ‘Who can entice Ahab to go into battle against Ramoth-gilead so he can be killed?’

“There were many suggestions, and finally a spirit approached the LORD and said, ‘I can do it!’

“‘How will you do this?’ the LORD asked.

“And the spirit replied, ‘I will go out and inspire all of Ahab’s prophets to speak lies.’

“‘You will succeed,’ said the LORD. ‘Go ahead and do it.’

“So you see, the LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouths of all your prophets. For the LORD has pronounced your doom.” (1 Kings 22:17-23)

Ahab was an evil king, guilty of leading his people to worship false gods and for abusing his power. The death of a tyrant is not just a judgment against that man, it is also a relief to those he had oppressed, an answer to their prayers for mercy.

Naboth had a vineyard near Ahab’s palace in Samaria. When Naboth refused to sell it, Jezebel, Ahab’s wife, conspired to kill Naboth so that Ahab could seize the property (see 1 Kings 21). God, through Elijah, proclaimed judgment against Ahab: the place where Naboth’s blood had been licked up by dogs was the same spot where Ahab’s blood would be licked up.

Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah then visited Ahab. Ahab asked him to join him in his plan to take a city, Ramoth Gilead, that had fallen some years previous to the Arameans. Jehoshaphat suggested that they should ask God first. Ahab’s prophets all predicted success. Jehoshaphat was unimpressed, since none of them were prophets of God. Reluctantly, Ahab called upon God’s prophet, Miciah, who predicted a disaster orchestrated by God.

Ahab did not believe Micaiah; for that matter, neither did Jehoshaphat. So they went off to war against Aram. Micaiah’s words came true and Ahab was mortally wounded in battle. God’s judgment against him happened just as God had predicted—and planned.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm a deacon at Quartz Hill Community Church. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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